Heart Attack Journal, Week 3 and Week 4

Well, it’s been a month this weekend since my heart attack. I’m still struggling a bit and have hit a mental wall. I seem to be stuck in the denial phase of coping with my new circumstances.

If you want to get caught up on the story so far you can read about the weekend I had the heart attack here. You can read the first journal entry here, and you can read the second one here.

But let’s get back to my mental roadblock. I’m kind of worried in my more rational moments about what it might mean for me and my family, even though I am trying to be as positive as possible.

So, objectively, I had a heart attack. I had an 80% blockage in an artery technically called the left anterior descending artery, but which is known in doctor-slang as “the widowmaker.” I’m lucky to be alive and know I need to make a lot of changes if I want to stay that way. One of the big changes is in diet, and that is a place where I am falling off the rails.

My weight has yo-yo’d a lot since I got home. I find myself eating to bury feelings of anxiety about my health, which is doubly bad. For some reason I have been craving dairy – and have realized that much of what I have eaten in the last week or so has involved stuff that goes with milk. I am not sure if there is something about surviving a heart attack that makes people crave dairy foods, but I need to cut them way, way down.

Exercise is another issue. I have been doing well at cardiac rehab, but the ongoing health concerns have kept my endurance lower than it should be, and the cold weather makes me not want to go outside to walk. The cold air is uncomfortable when exerting myself. I have used the elliptical machine I have at home (many thanks to my sister for it) but the rehab folks tell me to limit my uses to five minutes at a time.

That’s good and bad – good because I need to ease back into using that machine, and bad because I want to do more than I am capable of doing, which is frustrating.

I also have had more anxiety. One night recently I was unable to sleep and felt very panicky as I lay there in the dark. Lucky for me I have a good therapist and will talk with him about it soon. It’s disconcerting to have an anxiety episode, though, and I have a whole new appreciation for the plight of people who have panic attacks.

I need to kick-start my self-management regimen and do better with food, better with exercise regardless of the outdoor temperature, and learn to get my anxiety about the situation under control. I need to remember that people have overcome much worse health problems than mine. What happened to me is serious, but I survived it, and need to remind myself every day that I am fortunate and that I can win out over old habits, bad habits, and inertia.

It’s time for more baby steps forward and fewer backward ones.

Also: I need to shave more often. I think having a more regular routine would be helpful. Two thumbs up for positive changes.

11 comments on “Heart Attack Journal, Week 3 and Week 4
  1. Unpleasant Bonehead says:

    Operative word here is “seem” The best wishes are indeed genuine and remain so. Disagreeing with your opinions, is a far cry from wanting you to suffer physically, or for Vicky to loose you. The prayer wish was spot of humor. As the Secular Party represents Atheists, a prayer vigil for them would be ironic. I personally do not attend church, let alone a prayer vigil. I mentioned the Secular party so that you would know that I know you are an atheist thus the prayer bit would be humorous to you. who offers prayer for atheists? As far as civility, forget not YOU are the one who gave me unpleasant bonehead moniker. I think I am a rather pleasant chap, but to each their own.

    Speedy recovery

    You Obedient servant

    Unpleasant Bonehead

  2. Unpleasant Bonehead says:

    While I think your worldview suggests aggressive cranial rectal insertion disorder, I am most concerned to learn of your heart attack, and with heartfelt sincerity wish you a continued and full recovery. I will make sure to bring your situation up at the next “prayers for the Secular Party of America” vigil at the church so that we may ask God to heal you.

    Your Obedient servant
    Unpleasant Bonehead

    • Andrew says:

      Since you seem unable to be civil even when discussing my heart attack I’d say I’ll pass on whatever prayers you want to offer.

  3. Margaret Snowman says:

    I’ve been following your progress ever since your mom told me about your MI. Best of luck!

    Try a scarf across your nose and mouth when it is cold outside. My dad had asthma and his scarf warmed the air enough to keep him from having asthma attacks.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Drew and Vicky.


  4. Bob G. says:

    hey Drewseph,

    if you need somebody to help go on your walks at times, let me know

  5. Drew you can do it I know. It is hard to change your diet, but you can do it and every time you go to eat something you have to say to yourself is this good for me. I will help you in anyway I can. If you need someone to walk with I need to walk myself and I don’t , because I am so worried about falling. Vicky and you can come down and we can all walk around the park. I love you very much and want you around for a long, long, time. Please call me anytime you need to talk.

    Love You Very Much
    Mom Sylvester

  6. Albert says:

    Life is all about opportunities and decisions. You have been given a 2nd chance to live. Look around. Do you want to have those that care about you come to visit you at the cemetery – because that is where they will be visiting if you decide making the necessary changes is not for you.I know it is going to be tough but things worth having usually are.

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